Journals, Reflection, and Learning

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Journals, Reflection, and Learning

A journal is a crucible for processing the raw material of experience in order to integrate it with existing knowledge and create new meaning. Among the many purposes for journal writing are the following: to break habitual ways of thinking; enhance the development of reflective judgment and metacognition; increase awareness of tacit knowledge; facilitate self-exploration and personal growth; and work out solutions to problems (Andrusyszyn and Davie 1997; Mitchell and Coltrinari 2001; Moon 1999). Moon (1999) and Carroll (1994) discuss theories and research that support a number of assumptions about learning from journals:

. Articulating connections between new and existing knowledge improves learning.

. Writing about learning is a way of demonstrating what has been learned.

. Journal writing accentuates favorable learning conditions—it demands time and space

for reflection, encourages independent thought and ownership, enables expression of

feelings, and provides a place to work with ill-structured problems.

. Reflection encourages deep rather than surface learning.

English and Gillen (2001) report a dearth of research on the effectiveness of journal writing in adult education, although a few studies have demonstrated changes in thinking (Jasper 1999); more fluency in writing and language (Myers 2001); increased quality of group discussion and course performance (Kember et al. 1999; Parkyn 1999); and, in health care settings, better integration of learning and clinical practice (Jasper 1999). Journals are considered an effective way to socialize learners to academic discourse and institutional culture (Garland 1999; Myers 2001) and enhance the learning of Eng...

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...f Thought' in Journal Writing." System 29, no. 4 (December 2001): 481-488.

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Parkyn, D. L. "Learning in the Company of Others: Fostering a Discourse Community with a Collaborative Electronic Journal." College Teaching 47, no. 3 (Summer 1999): 88-90.

Schiwy, M. A. A Voice of Her Own: Women and the Journal Writing Journey. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

Williamson, A. "Reflection in Adult Learning with Particular Reference to Learning-in-Action." Australian Journal of Adult and Community Education 37, no. 2 (July 1997): 93-99.

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